I have spent considerable time reading posts here and elsewhere trying to educate myself on hacking the PS3, and think I have finally bought myself a clue about all this - but I want you experts here to correct me anywhere I appear to be going astray, including in terminology.
The end goal is to play homebrew and legal backups from internal or external hard drives; I have no interest whatsoever in the PlayStation Network, so that is not a factor. It is my machine, I should be a be to do with it what I choose, not what Sony chooses.
I own a Slim 3k (CECH-3001A) with untouched shipping OFW 3.66. I have avoided upgrading it in any way, which means we can't play a number of the games we own...I was avoiding it because of references to "4.x," but now I'm thinking I've been wrong, and when someone references "4.x" what they really mean is anything >3.55.
If I understand correctly, this slim can never run 3.55 or less, regardless of dongles, hardware, etc. the only way I will be able to run homebrew and legal backups is to buy a used machine CECH-25xx or lower with a datecode prior to 201012, and then pick up the appropriate solder-dongle for the device, install it, and follow one of the walkthroughs for downgrading.
And if all that's correct, does it make sense for me to hang onto the 3.66 firmware in this Slim 3K, or should I just suck it up and upgrade so we can at least play all of the games we have now while I look around for a used older machine?
Would greatly appreciate any suggestions or corrections, thanks.